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We wish all our dear ex-libris friends long life and good health! But as we all know, we cannot go on collecting forever... 

Please send information as to ex-libris collectors and artists who have passed away.

 

 

08.08.13

Another vey sad piece of news for ex-libris enthusiasts... Marius Liugaila died a few weeks ago. He leaves behind a major opus of beautifully engraved and poetical ex-libris. More information on the artist will be posted soon.

Liugaila

 

27.05.13

We just learned of the passing away of one of the great artists of the bookplate in our time: Evgeny Bortnikov

Hasip Pektas wrote: He was a good ex-libris artist, a successful teacher and a great person. I bow respectfully in front of his memory. I wish condolences to all exlibris world to all his relatives. His place must be heaven. Hasip 


EBface


Evgeny Bortnikov was born in 1952 in Sverdlovsk (nowadays Yekaterinburg), Russia. In 1974 graduated from arts and graphic department of Nizhniy Tagil State Pedagogical Institution.
He was a member of the Artists Union of Russia since 1980.
He worked in the field of book and easel graphics and devoted himself to pedagogical activity. Senior lecturer of the chair of drawing of the Nizhniy Tagil State Social and Pedagogical Academy.

Bortnikov was awarded countless prizes and medals at the international exhibitions of drawing and printmaking in Russia, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, France, Czech Republic, Sweden.

He lived and worked in Nizhniy Tagil, Russia.

Benoit Junod wrote: Bortnikov made hundreds of bookplates with always one subject: women. Women in all shapes and sizes, always perfectly drawn, always perfectly beautiful. Just a glance at his work made you instantly feel the he loved women, knew their bodies and their souls. He is one of the last classic wood engravers, using the wood brilliantly to make diaphanous, magical images. Then occasionally, he would rip loose and make violently erotic and strong computer ex-libris. Dear dual Evgeny. His girls will always be with us...

evbort

2.02.13

Below, a text on the artist, our friend Oldrich Kulhánek who passed away recently. It was written by Henry Klein, who knew him well...

In 1971, along with his close friend Jan Krejcí (1942 - 2001), he was arrested and charged with “Making Images that defamed a fraternal Soviet State.”  From that time on, he was a banned artist, forbidden to exhibit in his home country, until the collapse of the Communist government at the end of 1989.  During those dark times, commissions from the ex libris community, in his own country and in the West were a lifeline that helped to sustain him.  He had told me many times how crucial friends in the West were to his well being and to lifting his spirits.  Amongst them, he repeatedly singled out Norbert Hillerbrandt, Walter Humplstötter, Luc Sanders, and Leo van Mares for special appreciation, but mentioned so many others in passing as well.  Time and again he said that the meteoric rise of his fortunes through the sales of large format work after the “Velvet Revolution” had been made possible by the friends and contacts he had previously made through the ex libris community.  If you look at the list of his ex libris and P.F. commissions, it is also clear that the early and unwavering support of his fellow countrymen, particularly Frantisek Turnovec, was absolutely important.

By now, all of you in the Czech Republic are certainly mourning his passing, and many more of you also know of his death.  He and I have been friends for 23 years.  When I first invited him to come to Los Angeles for the opening of the exhibition I had curated, “Creativity in the Shadow of Political Oppression,” I knew him only as a great artist and a former political dissident.  But, when we met in 1990, there was an immediate kinship.  Perhaps it was because my own parents had suffered as political dissidents here in the United States.  Perhaps it was because we both loved to eat too much and had a great passion for life.  Certainly it had to do with his remarkable sense of humor.  We never met or spoke over the telephone without exchanging jokes and ending up laughing.   

He was a phoenix reborn after the fall of Communism.  But I am quite sure that the Phoenix never could have had a sense of humor that approached that of Olda.  I am so pleased that he lived long enough to experience the turnabout of his fortunes and the admiration of his fellow countrymen that he truly deserved. Frequently staying in his studio when I visited Prague each year, I was privileged to see the methodical and dedicated way in which he worked.  He was the finest figurative draughtsman that I have ever known and a profound artistic genius.  

He leaves behind his wife, Jana, three children, David, Katarína and Klara, and at least two grandchildren (I apologize if I have not kept up with David's progeny.).

The last time that he and I spoke on the telephone, we joked about getting old, having to see too many doctors, but how glorious life still was for us.  He said “Each morning when I awake, I look around and say to myself, I have beaten the Devil again.”  I have always admired the spirit with which he always faced life.  A long time ago, he told me that he had a small heart as the result of an illness that he had suffered when he was 19.  But that was only his physical heart.  His spiritual heart was immense.  So the empty place he leaves behind is also very large.  No one can fill that space.  Nevertheless, you have all been privileged to have been touched by a giant.

Rest in peace my friend.  My condolences to all of you who loved and admired him.  We have suffered a very great loss.

24.09.12

fotoCW

In memoriam Claus Wittal

It was a shock to learn that Claus Wittal passed away on September 18th, after a long struggle with cancer. He was 57 years old and seemed one of the youngsters of the bookplate community.


There are very few people in the ex-libris world who have not been in touch with Claus, or read some of the many excellent publications on bookplates which he produced, or turned to him when they were looking for ‘that special ex-libris’ missing in their collection.


As is the case of many of us, it was through books that Claus discovered ex-libris , and they were both a passion and a livelyhood. His website (http://www.exlibriscw.de ) modestly announces “More than 5’000 bookplates online, over 100’000 in stock.”, but it doesn’t explain how knowledgeable Claus was in our field of interest, or his kindness in helping friends and customers,. At a time when our collecting community is deeply divided between those who are interested in old bookplates and in research, and those who collect only signed and numbered prints mainly by contemporary artists, Claus was a bridge, without prejudices. This was a rare quality, which he shared with one or two other ‘giants’ who helped us all build our collections, like Johan Souverein.


Claus will be missed, sorely missed. Not only by his wife Margo and his daughter Elisabeth, to whom we send our heartfelt sympathy and affection. Not only by his many friends. But also be the German Bookplate Society which he helped build into the impressive organization it is today – as its Treasurer for many years (a thankless task), but also as the organizer of three of its annual congresses.


In 2003, FISAE awarded the Helmer Fogedgaard Certificate to Claus Wittal  for his achievements in the field of publications on the theme of ex-libris.  But I am certain that FISAE will find new ways to perpetuate his memory, as his dedication to ex-libris was exceptional.

24.02.2012

The sad news just arrived of the death of Antoon Vermeylen in Budapest, five days ago. He was born in Antwerp on July 27th, 1931, and was one of the most brilliant Belgian artists , glazier and graphic artists of his generation. He was educated at the art academy in Berchem and at the Vocational School for Applied Arts in Antwerp. He then attended the Academy of Fine Arts and the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp, of which the director was Mark Severin.


He was involved with the Institute of Printing Arts of the Plantin Society and studied music at the Conservatory in Antwerp. He was a teacher at the Academy of Plastic Arts in Merksem and at the Technicum in Antwerp.


He was introduced to the world of bookplates by Mark Severin, and produced dozens of them as well as book illustrations and other small graphics. Vermeylen published his first woodcuts in the journal Pipe Herb edited by Frank-Ivo van Damme, of which he was a life-long friend.


Antoon Vermeylen lived in Budapest with his wife Hermina Horvath. We address our most sincere condolences to her and to all his many friends.

verm

9.04.11

A chance comment by James Keenan brought to my attention the death of Daniel de Bruin. And here is a good obituary which was published a few months ago...

Obituary: Daniel de Bruin, heraldic bookplace designer
By GORDON CASELY, in the Scotsman, 04.01.11

Daniel de Bruin, heraldic bookplace designer.
Born: 23 September, 1950, in Krimpen aan den Ijssel, Netherlands.
Died: 19 October, 2010, Krimpen aan den Ijssel, aged 60.

Daniel de Bruin was one of Europe's leading heraldic bookplate designers, whose treatment of the art broke the unwritten rules that existed then. He died by his own hand at his home in the Netherlands, due to pressure of work, it is believed.

Bruin had an uncanny eye for the original, and his acclaimed work graces collections across Europe, with distinguished clients including the Vatican seeking him out. Bibliophiles in five continents marked ownership of their volumes with de Bruin bookplates in the form of rectangle, square, roundel, diamond and cartouche. His work appears in the archives of Sir Ilay Campbell of Succoth, Scotland’s leading bookplate collector, and Scots diplomat Alistair Kerr.

Daniel de Bruin lived all his life in the small Dutch town of Krimpen aan den Ijssel. He was fascinated from a young age by colourful images and his latent ability in graphics led him into a self-taught path of calligraphy and letter design. By age 23, his fascination for the form led him into heraldry, and he was quick to note how bookplates established both decoration and provenance in books.

Inspired by modernist engravers such as Professor Mark Severin, Pieter Wetselaar and Win Zwiers, de Bruin became influenced by the relationship of solid line and black-against-white, and the functional way in which his fellow Dutch typographer and engraver Pieter Wetselaar gave form to bookplate design. While he enjoyed the tradition of the English masters like Edward Kruger Gray and John Vinycomb, Daniel was particularly inspired by those he termed the "masters" - the Scottish heraldic draughtsmen Graham Johnston, AG Law Samson and John Sutherland.

His first commission came in 1981, but it was his day job in computing that gave him a lead through the internet revolution of the mid-1990s. He set out to establish himself electronically, as well as using the internet to examine heraldic sources otherwise unknown to him. By 1996, he was an early adopter of useful websites, and this - coupled with the availability of cheap technology in colour printing and his appointment as a craft member to the Society of Heraldic Arts - established him globally, and especially in the United States.

He fashioned unusual and delicate work for Father Peter Walters in Colombia and Robert Cromartie, baron of Urquhart, stretching boundaries in conventional design by using integrated lettering within an anciently expressive culture. His work attracted critical acclaim, appearing in leading publications of a dozen nations.

Several of his bookplates feature in Alexander von Volborth's opus The Art of Heraldry, and from the mid-1980s, his bookplates appeared in international exhibitions from St Petersburg to Hong Kong, Tokyo to Belgrade. His was appointed chairman of the first bookplate competition in the Netherlands in 1990.
De Bruin's motto was Dare To Be Different, and he marked his work with an ermine spot - a choice of personal insignia deriving from the myth that a white stoat (the "ermine") would rather run into fire than dirty its paws in mud. He never allowed either his trademark scholarliness or his personal style to erase the style of heraldry practised in a particular region. Thus the bookplate of Johan Deboutte in Belgium is infused with Flemish spirit, while that for the Mexican David de Oliverara-Ayes employs Spanish heraldry of his Conquistador ancestor Diego de Olivera of 1519. For his clients, he employed heraldic influences running from the Turkish and Egyptian to the Japanese and Welsh, and even produced a recognisable heraldic signature in recent work for Carl Pritchett in Texas.

A modest man, Daniel brought pictorial language in new form to today's visually-focused society and produced a body of work almost unparalleled in its exuberance and celebration of heraldry. He is survived by his wife Greete.

7.01.11

Dr. Emil Kunze, Hamburg,
17.4.1921 – 11.1.2011


Dear Dr. Kunze! He was an assiduous collector of ex-libris and a member of the DEG and Swiss ex-libris club. He attended a great number of congresses and will be sorely missed, by artists and collectors alike.

Here is a photo of him with Malou Hung at Istanbul...

13.09.10

Mrs. Leida Soom 1912-2009


Estonian exlibris artist and collector Mrs. Leida Soom died 25th September 2009. She reached 96 years.
She graduated from the Estonian National Arts and Crafts School 1933 and worked after that as a designer in a local textile firm.
In 1940 the National Opera Estonia searched for new talent. Leida Soom was accepted for the ranks of the opera and she started a career for thirty years.
Her first exlibris was made under the guidance of Paul Ambur in 1950. 
After a few other attempts in 1955 and 1958 she really started as an exlibris artist in 1960 and continued for 38 years and over 400 examples. The last one she made in 2002.
In 2006 Andres Aruoja published an illustrated catalogue of all the works of Mrs. Soom.
Her collection of tens of thousands of ex-libris was kept in her tiny home in perfect order.

20.12.09

I apologise profusely for the delay in posting these news... and I am grateful to Cristiano Beccaletto for the information on our two Italian friends, as well as to Rastko Ciric for biographical details of Bogden Krsic.

BOGDAN KRSIC (Sarajevo, 1932 – Belgrade, 2009)

 

 

Bogdan Krsic studied at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade under Prof. Mihailo S. Petrov, and at the College for Industry and Arts in Prague under Prof. Karel Swolinsky.

 

From 1962 to 1997, he was full-time Professor at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, for many years heading the Graphics Department. As a founder of the Book Design department, he directed courses in book design. He was Vice-Dean of the FAA and Vice-Rector of the University of Arts in Belgrade. He was a member of ULUPUDS, ULUS, The Graphic Collective, HOLLAR, the society of Czech graphic artists, and since its inception, Vice-President of the Belgrade Ex-libris Circle.

 

He was one of the most prominent graphic artists in former Yugoslavia.

Apart from free graphics, he worked on illustration, typography, newspaper- magazine- and book-design, as well as ceramics, scenography and heraldry. Krsic published many texts on graphic arts in the daily press and in professional publications.

 

Bogdan Krsic had more than 40 one-man exhibitions, and received many awards for his graphic work, book design and ex-libris. Four books were published about him and his work: BOGDAN KRSIC by Dragan Djordjevic (Graphic Collective, Belgrade, 1968), BOGDAN KRSIC – GRAPHIC PRINTS by Vanja Kraut (National Museum, Belgrade, 1987), THE DEMIURG by Slobodan Lazarevic and Miomir Petrovic (Jefimija, Kragujevac, 1997) and IN THE GROTESQUE THEATRE OF BOGDAN KRSIC by Branislava Jevtovic (Vojnoizdavacki Zavod, Belgrade, 2004).

 

He made about 60 ex-libris, mainly in the technique of etching and aquatint, and is considered among the most imaginative and accomplished creator of important small format graphic works of his generation. Also, in his courses at the Faculty of Applied Arts of Belgrade University, Bogdan Krsic set as a task to each class of his students the creation of a bookplate – for themselves, a member of their family or a friend. In this way, he promoted ex-libris, which were an art form he greatly appreciated.

 

Egisto Bragaglia (Venice, 15 June 1916 – Merano 4 March 2009)

At nearly 93, Egisto Bragaglia has left us – an internationally famous historian and researcher of ex-libris. Our condolences go to his wife, Tina – who is 97 – and whom he married in 1939. When they met, Egisto was just over 17, and she was 22. They were inseparable all their life, in work as in hobbies and pastimes – photography, clocks, voyages, arts, gastronomy, just to name a few, and during the last 30 years, graphics and bookplates.

Professionally, he had a varied career, as in 1933 he joined an important firm of the IRI group, active in the commerce of steel and in 1938 directed its branch in Bolzano. In 1946 he had a commercial firm with his wife for the sale of technical equipment and tools. From 1946 until 1972, he was vice-president of the publishing house and daily newspaper ‘Alto Adige’, and was very active in public life and politics. In 1977, he renounced all public mandates and took his pension, then dedicating his life entirely to arts and culture.

From that moment on, Bragaglia collected thousands of graphic art works and paintings, and organized his library of over 10’000 volumes which contained all the reference works of all aspects of culture. And he dedicated himself to the scientific study and promotion of ex-libris.

He cooperated with the ‘Encyclopaedia bio-bibliographical of the art of contemporary ex-libris’, and was a member of the board of the Grafica d’arte’ magazine, and ‘UTZ, published by the Progetti Farnesiani di Ortona, as well as ‘Ex Libris’. With Remo Palmirani, he founded the ‘Accademia dell’Ex Libris’. He organized innumerable exhibitions, cooperating in particular with Ortona for the shows at the Palazzo Farnese, the first nucleus of the Mediterranean Ex Libris Museum.

From 1994 until 2000, he taught at the biennial courses specialized in the cataloguing of antique books, organized by the Province of Trento. In 1998, he set up the programme for the organisation of the ex-libris section of the Brunico Museum. He gave countless conferences at the Municipal Library of the Sormani Palace in Milan, at the Library of Pavia, at the Museum of Ortona, at the seminary of the Archbishopric of Trento, at the University library of Bologna, and in Bolzano, on a wide range of occasions.

Egisto Bragaglia published over 190 books and articles on bookplates and graphics, amongst which “Bibliografia italiana dell’ex libris” (1986) and “L’ex libris italiano dale origini all fine dell’Ottocento” (3 vol., 1993), are seminal works. In 1996, the Italian Libraries’ association published his ‘Ex Libris’, aimed at the employees of all Italian public libraries.

His efforts produced “Gli ex libris Italiani del Novecento” in 2006, and two years later, “L’Ex libris del bibliofilo” published with the municipalità and library of Rovereto.

In 2003, Bragaglia was awarded the Udo Ivask certificate by FISAE in recognition of his ‘monumental catalogue of Italian bookplates’, and in 2006, the Special Remo Palmirani Prize for ‘his indefatigable and long-term efforts in the fields of study and historical research aiming at promoting the bookplate in its most traditional and real values’.

The last decision of his life was to donate an important part of his library – over 1500 volumes – to the Library of Rovereto.

With Bragaglia, it is a rigourous researcher who disappears, an outstanding organizer, and an excellent public speaker. But above all, he was a man who freed the contemporary Italian bookplate from the simple function of a collector’s exchange material, fostering its re-evaluation within its historical tradition: without light, there is no colour; without a witness, there are no facts; without historical memory, bookplates are practically nothing.

 

Remo Wolf (Trento, 1912 – 2009)

On January 27th 2009, Remo Wolf passed away peacefully – a great painter, engraver and woodcutter.

He studied and acquired his skills at the Art Institutes of Parma and Florence, obtaining his diploma to teach drawing. It was in Florence that he entered the world of woodcut, etching and aquatint when he was a student, discovering bookplates when he visited an exhibition by Bruno da Osimo. Apart from paintings and drawings, his graphic works comprise 3800 free graphics, of which 2700 woodcuts and 1800 intaglio prints, about 850 bookplates and 320 ephemera. From 1936 onwards, he took part in Italian and international art shows, of which the Venice Biennial (1942, 1950, 1954 and 1956) and many others, receiving awards such as the Suzzara and Biella prizes. His work is in the collections of many Italian museums, of which the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome.

Particularly in his woodcuts, Wolf was marked by central European expressionism, with strong and vigorous lines, whereas his painting was more Venetian in its light and colour.

His subject matter is often autobiographical, with the daily discovery of his own world with its monotony or diversity. He was also very marked by literature and reflected texts meticulously in his engravings, as can be seen for instance in 87 plates on the works of the poet François Villon, in which one feels the strong and profound inspiration which the work had on the artist over a period of a decade – a metaphor on human life, natural rhythms, where everything inexorably repeats itself.

With his death, the events of his life fade away, but his art remains as a witness of a life dedicated to the ‘craft’ through which he communicated to people his love for mountains, the flight of time or human events, fortunes and adventures.

 

8.05.09

The death last year of Karoly Andrusko seems to have been practically unnoticed... He still remains, today, the most prolific engraver of bookplates in the history of the genre - with over 5000 engravings of ex-libris in his opus list...

7.01.08

It was a great sadness to learn, a few days ago, that Germaine Meyer-Noirel, the 'Grande Dame' of ex-librists, passed away on Sunday January 6, after a short illness. She was born in Nancy in 1919 and spent most of her life in her native Lorraine, living in a wonderful house in the village of Tomblaine, with her husband Jean-Charles Meyer (†2000), a highly cultured chemist who shared many of her interests. The house was full of books, bookplates, engravings, and a number of other collections which were started by her father. But her home from home was the Municipal Library of Nancy, next to the celebrated Stanislas Square, where she had convinced the director, many years ago, to give a small office to AFCEL to house its collection and archives. It was a box-lined mouse's nest kept in pristine order, with albums, reserves of publications and many reference books, Germaine's desk and barely room for a chair for visitors.

Germaine Meyer-Noirel was a librarian by training, and as such had a real interest in ex-libris as library owners' marks over the centuries – though she did not disdain contemporary ex-libris, even having quite a number to her own name commissioned from various artists as well as received as gifts, which she exchanged, and promptly added her acquisitions to the AFCEL collection, having no real wish to collect for herself. She was a scholar of ex-libris, a researcher and certainly the foremost expert on French bookplates for most of her life. For half a century, she worked as a volunteer for the Nancy Library and for AFCEL, publishing an array of important articles on the history of ex-libris and in 1989 a book, L'ex-libris: histoire, art, techniques, published by Picard, Paris, which remains still today the best reference work on French bookplates. She created at her office in the Nancy Library a National Centre for the Documentation of Ex-libris for AFCEL where she weaved an extraordinary web of scholars and collectors of bookplates interacting with them to identify, classify and document items which were mysterious. This quickly led her to embark on her life-work, writing an encyclopaedic repertory of French ex-libris which now contains over 30'000 items collected into close to twenty volumes. These last few years she worked assiduously on her project mostly from her home, using an excellent database which had been specially developed for her. Not wanting things to get out of hand, she asked her computer technician to install an automatic save and backup every day at 5 pm... following which the computer switched off automatically, and she stopped working! Shortly before Christmas, she passed the letter 'z' cards for checking, so her task was almost finished – AFCEL, with the help of Germaine's daughter, Cécile Malinverno, will see to it that the last volume of the repertory is published soon.

Germaine Meyer-Noirel had a key role in AFCEL, recreated in 1945. She was a member since its inception and its president from 1983 to 2000, and then its honorary president until her death. She was, with the help of her husband, a key figure in the founding of FISAE (see http://www.fisae.org/historystatutes.html). All collectors and researchers who were in touch with her will remember how helpful and generous she was with her time and her immense reservoir of knowledge. She was a patient and persistent researcher, and at the same time witty and amusing, with a sharp mind and astounding memory.

Beyond her major contribution to the history of ex-libris, Germaine Meyer-Noirel leaves behind her five children, 15 grand-children and 19 great-grand-children. On behalf of FISAE and the entire ex-libris community, we convey to them our heartfelt condolences.

 

4.05.07

Less than a week after posting the last news I have the very sad task of bringing to you more bad news. Our good friend Vladimir Loburev, founder and curator of the Ex-libris Museum in Moscow, died yesterday, May 3rd. All of you who have been to international bookplate meetings, or being in Moscow have found their way to the Ex-libris Museum on Pushechnaya, will have met him and will mourn him. This is another terrible loss for the Russian Ex-libris Association and we send them our most heartfelt condolences.

A biographical note is being drafted and will be posted here soon.

30.04.07

Another leading figure of the Russian bookplate world has left us. Born on April 5, 1930, the great wood engraver and artist Anatolii Kalashnikov died in Moscow on 21 April. Click here to read a text about him by FISAE Executive Secretaty W. E. Butler.

17.04.07

There seems to be a succession of bad news... I was just informed that Veniamin Khudolei, Vice-Chairman of the Russian Ex-libris Association and editor of its journal, died on Saturday, April 14, 2007. Many of us remember Veniamin's brilliant organisation of the FISAE Congress in St. Petersburg in 1998 - and all those who knew him will miss his lively intelligence, his sense of humour and his charm.

Click here to read a text on Veniamin Khudolei by W. E. Butler, FISAE Executive Secretary, and here to read a tribute to him by a group of major Russian artists who were his friends.

26.02.07

Today, not only the Bookplate Society but the entire ex-libris community is in mourning. Brian North Lee, writer, collector and historian of bookplates (*1936) died of cancer in London on 24 February 2007.

Founder of the Bookplate Society in 1972 and its president for a great part of its existence, Brian was the most prolific author on ex-libris in the history of British bookplate collecting, with many of his works (for example Early Printed Book Labels [P.L.A. and Bookplate Society, 1976], British Bookplates [David and Charles, 1979], etc.) being standard reference books not only for British collectors but used worldwide. He stands without doubt alone of his generation as the epitome of the serious collector and erudite researcher on bookplates. Although his interests centred on British ex-libris and Royal bookplates, his interests were wide and he was knowledgeable on subjects as far apart as mediaeval German ex-libris or contemporary Scottish ones (a book on Scottish bookplates which he wrote with Sir Ilay Campbell is still under press). In 1995, he went to Belgrade as a member of the jury of the 'World of Ex-libris' competition, and his comments and observations showed that he also had a good eye for contemporary bookplates - as long as they were real ex-libris, and not small free graphics in disguise.

By training, after an attempt at religious life, Brian became an English teacher and taught many years at a school for educationally difficult children. He delighted in language and literature and each letter one received from him was a small masterpiece. It was a tragedy for him that in the 1980s the school was closed and he was made redundant, with a very modest pension - but for bookplate enthusiasts, it was a gift, as Brian from then on spent nearly all his time and energy on ex-libris. He also, by the way, built up a breath-taking collection of mediaeval pilgrims' badges, with many pieces coveted by the British Museum.

Brian's house at 32 Barrowgate Road, Chiswick, was for over a quarter of a century the place where bookplate enthusiasts from all parts of the world went for counsel and information - and to whiff an atmosphere of the England of our childhood, with mahogany and oak furniture, fine china and a grandfather clock which never worked - normal, as time stood still. Privileged visitors met the tortoise in the garden, and also Prince Stanley Hanuman, a very Royal plush monkey which went back to Brian's childhood. Talk was nearly always about bookplates - projects of articles and books, queries as to style, owners, artists, motifs - and Brian always seemed to have that snippet of information one had been looking for in vain. His memory was exceptionally good, and he was sometimes disgruntled when people, over a few years, asked him the same question twice. His deep knowledge of ex-libris was not acquired perchance: he had read all the literature on the subject of the 1860-1920 period, including all the volumes of the Ex-libris Journal, many times. I remember asking him a question about an early armorial once, and he pulled out one of the ELJ volumes, flipped the pages and came to a lengthy article on the subject of my query, written in 1906... he pushed the book in front of me , and said "It's all there!" - and I felt sheepish.

Of all Brian's publications, the one which best reveals his enquiring spirit and gently caustic wit is Some recollections of a bookplate collector, which was privately published in the late 'eighties. I have just taken it from my bookshelf, and will start re-reading it when I get home tonight. Perhaps it will be a way to cheat his departure for a few days. All his friends, and especially the West Indian ones, who were the closest to him, sorely miss him. Thank you Brian, for all you have given us.

Persons who want more information as to Brian North Lee can read an article by John Blatchly here, and can find information as to his funeral on www.bookplatesociety.org

 

 

22.12.06

I received this morning the very sad news that our dear friend Costante Costantini, the great Florentine engraver, painter and creator of ex-libris, died on December 1rst. I feel this loss personally and very directly, as earlier this year I went three times to Florence to see him and to prepare the exhibition of his bookplates which were shown in 'Work in Dialogue' at the FISAE Congress last August.

He telephoned me in September to express his joy at having seen the catalogue and his pride in being associated with Simon Brett, Evgenji Bortnikov and Vladimir Zuev in the publication.

With his loss, it is one of the last great European woodcutters who disappears. His bookplates and his rich legacy of artworks remain, with their wonderful blacks and whites in perfect balance. Behind the images of persons of all walks of life, the humanity and sense of fun of Costantini is always apparent, with rare crispness and gentility. No one was a more constant friend - as his name reminds us.

For those who did not read the short biographical note in 'Work in Dialogue', it can be accessed here.

The woodcut shown above is one of the many small prints he used to send as PFs and New Year cards. Below his self-portrait is the word 'auguri', which means best wishes. Best wishes to you, Costante Costantini, and may the earth be light on your grave.

 


Where can I find something which was posted and has been removed?
Competition results, in memoriam notices and all other material except what refers to ephemeral events such as meetings and exhibitions are posted to the 'Archive' section of this site. Consult it!









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